Children can link facts and events into integrated beliefs. This ability of the mind to combine facts to form higher-order Gestalts is central to many cognitive activities, including problem solving, analogical reasoning, and creative thought. In fact, it is central to the abduction of meaning: the creation of a self-sustaining pattern of ordered facts that are combined in the larger Gestalt. Abduction has mostly escaped experimental investigation, possibly because it often emerges instantly and non-linearly, and is thus difficult to trace with traditional models of cognition. In the current paper, we take steps towards filling this gap, using ideas from nonlinear dynamics and complexity science. The assumption is that products of abductive reasoning can emerge from competing sources of constraint, namely constraints that favor local facts (and contradict a congruent Gestalt) versus constraints that favor the congruent Gestalt (and override contradictory local facts). The experiments reviewed in this paper exploit situations of such conflicting constraints. The goal is, first, to provide evidence of congruent-Gestalt constraints in young children, and second, to explore the interaction among competing constraints. The outcome is a qualitative evaluation of parameter dynamics, the dynamics of a control parameter of abductive reasoning.